Over three-quarters of consumers say they have abandoned an intended purchase due to poor customer service; and yet, only 4% of unsatisfied customers will even talk to you about it. While it’s easy to lose a customer over a bad service experience (the number one reason for low customer retention rates), it’s also much easier (and cheaper) to keep an existing customer than to “convert” a new one. Plus, long-time loyal customers are the backbone of your business’ bottom line.

Since a large portion of your business’ interactions with clients and prospects takes place over the phone, the overwhelming importance of customer service to your business’ success that the above stats/facts indicate is far more than a passing concern. It reveals the need for two things in particular: a superior phone system and superior customer-service phone skills.

Connecting your business phone system to the cloud

There are numerous expensive, complex business phone systems that, while well worthwhile for larger businesses, are simply out of reach for small business owners. But simply operating off your own personal phone and number may make your business seem unprofessional in the eyes of many. Plus, you’ll lack some of the important features and the reliable signal that business phone systems offer.

Is there a middle way? Is there a truly affordable business phone line option for small but growing businesses that they can set up quick and easy and rely on day to day? Well, using a cloud-connected system (app) like UniTel Voice is the answer to that question, and the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

New startups and entrepreneurs can gain toll-free numbers, numbers with local area codes, and vanity numbers (like 1-800-SMARTECH, as an example). They can also support multiple lines for multiple departments like sales, support, and billpay. You can also set up your own professional greetings, extensions and voicemails for particular employees, and manage  business calls, voicemail, and faxes from any location.

All of this is made possible by simply connecting your existing equipment (smartphones) to the cloud. Set up is fast and easy, and there are no long-term contracts.

Keeping up sterling over-the-phone customer service

Having an affordable but professional phone system is only winning half the customer service battle. The other half is how you use it. Here are some tips to help keep your over the phone customer service skills up to par:

1. Always keep a friendly tone and an attitude of wanting to help. Practice “active listening,” being focused on the conversation and listening with a purpose (to understand the customer’s need so you can find a way to meet it).

2. Always address the customer by name, and introduce yourself by name at the beginning of the call as well. Don’t let your customer or prospect feel like a mere number.

3. When you think you understand what the customer is asking for or the information he/she has just given you, repeat to confirm.

4. If explaining a product or service, be willing to mention both pros and cons. That doesn’t mean to compare your company negatively with a competitor, but just to compare it with other products/services you offer and to be honest about its true capabilities. This kind of honesty will build trust.

5. Be sure to enunciate clearly throughout the conversation (but without sounding like an automaton). Your cloud based phone system may be clear as day, but you need to be too.

6. Summarize the conversation and any transactions that have taken place toward the end. Then ask if there’s anything else you can do for the customer. Always try to end the phone call with a 100% satisfied customer.